Showroom Shoppers Whip Out Mobile Devices to Complete Sales
The holiday season is here and shoppers want modern point-of-sale technology to speed them through the showroom and the checkout lines. Are retailers and small businesses living up to customer expectations?
Showrooming: The New Point-of-Service
According to Vend, the new brick-and-mortar is really “brick and click.” Looking at the opening cartoon by Marketoons, you get a real graphical representation about what this means: customers want the kind of show-me, touch-it service that only a real live human can provide in a showroom — which, thereafter, they whip out their smart phones or iPads, comparison shop, and purchase online.
Of course, this can seem a bit unfair to the salesperson working on commission or the retailer store owner who both pays a salesperson’s salary and hopes to reduce inventory by making an in-store sale. But that kind of thinking, from a customer’s point of view, is moot. (The customer is in control!)
With Black Friday just down the street, and Christmas around the corner, the retailer just might be hampering sales and customer satisfaction by not getting past such thinking. Spending more time thinking about how customer behavior can, in fact, still make sales for his brick-by-brick establishment is a better use of energy.
Forbes keeps its finger on the pulse of all things entrepreneurial and quoting an industry report from IHL Group informs retailers that “mobile in retail is now a $5.7 Billion business worldwide” with respect to POS equipment hardware and software.
Coming to the Floor With Tools in Hand
A strategist from ReachMail recently shared their infographic about mobile email marketing campaigns with me. Notably, the infographic was about email marketing but a couple of the statistics they’d gathered also made a clear case for retail mobile point of sale marketing. Their tongue-in-cheek advice?
- #5 Focus on just one mobile platform. (Relevance: 25% are iPad users)
- #7 Make purchasing difficult (Relevance: 70% of mobile users are more likely to buy from mobile-friendly sites)
Wired Magazine took a look at how retail giant BestBuy strategized to take advantage of this facet of shoppers’ showrooming behavior. BestBuy’s CEO, Joly, acknowledged showrooming as “a threat” to in-store purchases but at the same time recognized the opportunity that was presenting itself. In their pilot project with customers looking to purchase high-end cameras, BestBuy has a sales representative actually greet customers with a tablet in hand, allowing them to comparison shop and finalize their purchase their way — whether in-store or even on BestBuy.com.
Now that’s coming at the problem from an integrated vantage point … And coming to the floor ready to make a sale, no matter how it gets rung up.
From Clunky Cash Registers To Hybrid Hardware-Cloud Solutions
In a Cloud Times article comparing the mobile point of sale offerings of PayPal, Square and Groupon, the author declares that “those clunky cash registers that used to be so ubiquitous in the retail world are slowly being phased out.”
From working with local retailers and small businesses in our various areas, we understand that things might not be moving quite that fast. (We’re the ones who complain that our clients are slow to embrace technology, right?)
But, even if small retailers aren’t gung-ho to ditch their ubiquitous cash registers, replacing them for purely in-the-cloud technologies, numerous ones are likely to adopt a hybrid solution that involves a different kind of hardware and a more point-of-service approach.
When I talk to small business owners, they don’t want to be left behind, or seen as dinosaurs, clinging to old-fashioned technology that doesn’t embrace their entire consumer market. A case in point are the small businesses mentioned in the USA Today article below.
USA TODAY asks “What’s the best way for small business to grow” and provides examples of small businesses using mobile technology and social media marketing as a key answer. They relate a story about a food truck owner who started out using mobile point of sale hardware then was later able to move up to a brick-and-mortar store.
The same article profiles a small business owner who says that after he bought a 100-year old coffee shop, he “saved up to $10,000 on traditional cash registers by using Square” and the iPad system in his coffee bar. See, “old-fashioned” isn’t a dirty word unless it hampers sales and doesn’t meet the needs of today’s modern consumers.
Give The Gift of Speed (and Customer Satisfaction)
How can you help them see the light?
As we approach the holiday season, retailers in our customer base are likely too pressed for time to shift gears and go mobile this year. But the thing to keep in mind and remind them of as we kick off the upcoming new year? Holiday shoppers want to speed through purchasing gifts and they want to use the latest technological advances to make that happen.
Wearing our hats as consumers of retail services and as small business consultants, let’s encourage small businesses and local retailers to give the gift of speed by upgrading their point-of-sale hardware to at least a hybrid system that incorporates mobile features. That, in turn, will delight customers with showroom showmanship.
Over to You
What are your thoughts? Does your favorite retailer use modern mPOS technology that is delightful for you as a customer? As a small business consultant, are you having difficulties bringing your retail clients into the 21st century? Are you a service provider who is looking for ways your clients can pay you quickly, conveniently, in whatever venue you happen to be in?
Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas below.